Who We Are

Charles Blackhall

Greetings and welcome. Visual images and the creative process have long been a passion for me.  From the days of black and white and darkrooms, I have studied photography with various teachers and mentors, and in collaboration with other artists, set up the first photography gallery in Victoria, British Columbia. We called this the Secession Gallery as an homage to some of the pioneers of photographic expression. They advanced the art of photography as a means of visual expression beyond simply mimicking the painting styles of the day. The Mindful Eye practise works with the meditative discipline to slow down and  work with our state of mind. By calming and settling down we could connect with things as they are. This is a practise based on cultivating a contemplative state of mind so that we see things as we are and our creative expressions (images) reflect that purity of raw experience- rather than a conceptual overly (what we think).

Life’s journey led me to the meditative, or contemplative arts…ways of taming the mind. After years of exploring, practice and study, I became an insructor of Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and mindfulness meditation. These disciplines all relate to cultivating awareness by synchronizing body and mind .  A still mind and open heart, synchronized with the eye, is the very essence of direct visual perception, the mindful eye. Today I appreciate the influence of image makers/story tellers from various disciplines who attend to the freshness of this present moment.  Clear and simple, as it is.

When I met and married Kerry Crofton, a long-time mindfulness meditation practitioner and teacher, we shared a connection with this practice and the contemplative arts altogether  The Mindful EYE program developed from our combined aspiration to share these ways of experiencing the freshness of our world. We look forward to sharing this with you and your family/organization, it’s a great way to be together, or alone in the natural world, and just where you are, appreciating the simple beauty of daily life.

Kerry Crofton

One of my ancestors was one of the first women photographers (in 1866) as I discovered in a book Country House Camera. I cannot claim any influence from her, however. My husband Charles is the one who introduced me to the delights of contemplative photography as a most enjoyable way to slow down and appreciate ‘things as they are’. I first noticed his talent for this when we would look at his images after a holiday and my surprise at the moments he’d captured, “Where was that?”

My background is in health and wellness education, as well as teaching mindfulness meditation. One of my main concerns in this digital age is the ever-decreasing attention spans of so many people of all ages who are fixated on fast-moving digital screens a good part of the day harmful in many ways. And how disconnected many ‘inside’ children are becoming from each other, their families and the natural world.

What We Offer

Kerry says, “My contribution to The Mindful EYE is to meet the ongoing challenge of how we can share this practice with others in seminars, and coming soon in webinars and eBook. We have seen wonderful things happen to individuals, couples and families when they embark on this contemplative journey. It is a creative, fun and affordable way to tune in and enjoy each other, each moment just here. Just now.

Aimless wandering is a favourite past-time for us, often with a camera slung over a shoulder, or tucked in a pocket. Suddenly, something captures the attention the play of light, a reflection, a vivid colour, a subtle texture. In the moment, this can stop the mind and yet its very ordinary. This does not have to be in a special place or event; when your eyes are open, you see more and more the simple beauty of your everyday world. Noticing what is right here perhaps in the kitchen sink can wake us up.”

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Charles comments, “I have switched from professional camera gear to a small pocket-size one that I usually have handy. When something catches my eye; colour, texture, pattern, a gesture, light, space, anything,  a moment in time can be felt deeply. This can be a direct experience, rather than one overlaid with the judgements, ideas, stories and concepts that usually cloud our perception. I continue to be inspired by the endless perceptions and practice with my camera the joy of expressing this very moment. Also it can be interesting to the viewer to notice how these images are perceived. Does the mind rush to labeling? Opinions do you like it? Do you not like it? What does it remind me of, and more. Just noticing our reactions is our awareness at work. There is much more to this than meets the eye.

In the many exhibitions and projects, for me there was always this sense of joy in the camera work. Circumstances changed and yet I never lost the love, or that playful quality, of creating images and seeing deeper with the camera.”

How You Can Participate Our Town, Yours? On retreat? Online?

If you feel drawn to this, please get in touch with us. We can discuss several ways you can learn more and enjoy this practice. Many photography clubs have hosted us and this program, but most of the participants in our seminars are not professional photographers and as this is NOT ABOUT THE CAMERA, both groups find it quite freeing.

It is also about the creative process, about refining our ability to see things fresh as they are. It is not about the goal of “getting the perfect picture”, rather it’s being available so the image can reveal itself and we could express that, our experience of that moment. technical knowledge of cameras and photography is not necessary in this process. It is about perception…just so.

 

We love working with people of all ages and look forward to discussing possibilities with you. Last year we led a program in Hawaii. Maybe you’d like to join us there or have us offer this workshop in your city or town?

You can also check us out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mindfuleye

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